The Giving Tree is a fantastic book, and one that seems to have crossed the cultural divide pretty well. I've seen a lot of translated copies in Japanese classrooms or homes. Shel Silverstein had such a great ability to embed important life lessons for kids into dark, sad stories, without ever making anyone feel like what they were reading was dark, or sad, or... educational, I guess. I mean, think back about the story of The Giving Tree. That was a spoiled little kid, who grew up into an ungrateful man, who eventually becomes a sad, apathetic old man. It's a story about an exploitative relationship, and one that aptly characterizes today's yoji.
Literal - Drawing water for one's own field.
1. Being selfish
2. Acting in one's own self-interest
3. Manipulating (situations, arguments, people) to suit one's self
Think about the literal translation as though you were drawing the water for your field out of your neighbor's drinking supply.
The second, third, and fourth kanji are pretty easily recognizable: field, pull (draw), and water. If you haven't learned the first kanji yet though, you've definitely heard it. Let's look at some of the ways that it can be used.
- 我々(われわれ; wareware): the あらたまった version of "watashi-tashi." You don't use this to say, "We're going to the store." You use it for "We are gathered here today...."
- 我侭 (わがまま; wagamama): mostly written in kana these days, meaning "selfish; self-centered; egotistical."
- 我輩 (わがはい; wagahai): an arrogant, masculine way to say "me," "myself," or "us." It's actually a pretty old form of speech, but many people know it because of this famous Japanese book, which of course, inspired one of the funniest lines in this cartoon.
English teachers working as ALTs often do more learning of Japanese than they do teaching of English. If asked why they wanted to come to Japan, many will reply that they wanted to learn Japanese, but there aren't that many who say "I wanted to teach English." If that's the kind of experience they were counting on before they came, isn't that kind of a self-serving plan?